Budget airline easyJet is understood to have opened negotiations to relocate its headquarters to Europe, following Britain's decision to vote in favour of leaving the European Union.

The Luton-based carrier has held talks with EU member states to move its legal HQ to the continent, highlighting the impact leaving the bloc would have on a number of British businesses with great exposure to Europe.

According to Sky News, easyJet's chief executive Carolyn McCall has spoken with a host of as yet unidentified European states about obtaining an air operator's certificate (AOC), which would allow the airline to transfer its legal HQ abroad.

The airline confirmed it spoke with European aviation regulators about obtaining an AOC and it has since begun a formal process to secure the certificate.

"As part of easyJet's contingency planning before the referendum we had informal discussions with a number of European aviation regulators about the establishment of an AOC in a European country to enable easyJet to fly across Europe as we do today," an easyJet spokeswoman told IBTimes UK. "EasyJet has now started a formal process to acquire an AOC."

Should easyJet go ahead with the plan and move its HQ away from Britain, its UK AOC would have to become a subsidiary of its newly incorporated legal HQ. The model would be along the lines of that already in use by British Airways' owner, International Consolidated Airline Group, while Ryanair could also follow the same route in the future.

Following last week's EU referendum, the airline, which employs approximately 1,000 people at its Luton base, said it had considered a number of different options to cope with the outcome of the vote.

"EasyJet has been preparing for this eventuality in the lead-up to the referendum vote and has been working on a number of options that will allow it to continue flying in all of its markets," it said in an official statement.

McCall added she had "written to the UK government and the European Commission to ask them to prioritise the UK remaining part of the single EU aviation market".

The company explained it was lobbying the UK government and the EU to ensure the continuation of a fully liberal and deregulated aviation market within the UK and Europe, which would mean easyJet and all European airlines can continue to operate as they do today.

However, the airline indicated any structural changes will be put on hold until the negotiations between the UK and Brussels are completed.

"Until the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations are clearer easyJet does not need to make any other structural or operational changes," a spokeswoman told IBTimes UK.

"We have no plans to move from Luton – our home for 20 years."

On Monday (27 June), shares in the group plunged more than 7% shortly after the opening bell after the airline warned that its sales in the second half of the year are expected to suffer from Britain's decision to leave the EU.